Tree pruning is necessary to promote the plant's health and aesthetic value. When pruning trees, having an extensive knowledge of the tools used to get the job done is a must. Using the correct tools will allow you to prune the tree quickly, efficiently and, most importantly, safely.
There are several types of tree-pruning tools. The first are small, hand-held pruning shears, which have a crescent-shaped blade and are about the length of a a pair of scissors. Lopping shears have the same-shaped blade as pruning shears, but the blade is attached to long, thin handles for greater reach and leverage. Hand saws can also be used, the most common being pruning saws with a tri-cut, toothed blade. Pole saws are hand saw blades that are attached to long handles. Small chainsaws are also useful when pruning larger trees.
Pruning shears and lopping shears are both used to prune branches that can be easily reached and trimmed by hand. Pruning shears should be used on branches that are no larger than 2.5 inches in diameter, while lopping shears can be used to prune branches that are up to 7 inches in diameter. Pruning saws can be used to cut branches that are 10 inches in diameter or less. Pole saws prune branches that are out of reach, but must be used on thinner limbs (4.4 inches in diameter). Chainsaws are the best option for branches that are more than 10 inches in diameter.
Tree size is a major indicator of whether standard pruning tools can be used. Tree branches that are larger than 4 inches in diameter may require a professional's touch. This is because, if these branches fall, they can cause serious injury and property damage. Large trees that are located near power lines should also be left to professionals at the electric company. Standard tree-pruning tools are not precise enough to keep that situation from being a safety hazard.
All tree-pruning tools need to be sharpened on a fairly regular basis to keep them in good working order. A sharpening stone can be used to hone the blade on pruning shears and lopping shears. Saws generally need to be sharpened by a professional. The blades on all types of tree-pruning tools can be replaced as needed. Additionally, the tools should be disinfected occasionally to keep them from spreading disease to healthy trees. A good sanitizing solution for pruning tools is one part bleach to nine parts water; soak the tools for 1 to 2 minutes, then dry thoroughly.
Obviously, pruning trees can be very dangerous. Always wear safety goggles and protective clothing when using the tools. Never operate a chainsaw or attempt to prune trees on a ladder unless you have been trained by a professional. Never reach above your lead with a chainsaw or use it on a ladder.